Wednesday, 27 September 2017

APESS'17 summer school attendance in Yokohama, Japan

Hello guys!

How is the beginning of the fall season been treating you?

In this post, I will write about an extremely exciting and enriching activity in which I participated for three weeks. I'm talking about the 2017 edition of the Asia-Pacific-Euro Summer School on Smart Structures Technology (APESS) that took place at the Yokohama National University in Japan between July 17th and August 4th.

In this event, together with my colleagues ESR7 (Farhad Huseynov), ESR9 (Matteo Vagnoli) and ESR10 (JJ Moughty), I attended three-week lectures given by experts in civil engineering, structural dynamics and control, smart structures technology and structural health monitoring.

This was the tenth edition of this summer school, being that the first edition was held in 2008 in KAIST South Korea and the last edition held at Cambridge University, U.K. in 2016. Other editions of this summer school were held in different locations including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in the U.S., the University of Tokyo in Japan, Tongji University in China, Indian Institute of Science in India and the National Taiwan University in Taiwan.

This edition was the biggest so far with 60 young researchers enrolled in the program from all over the world. Coming from China, Japan, South Korea, Europe, India, United States of America, Taiwan, Canada and Hong Kong.

APESS'17 group photo
This was a program full of incredibly interesting lectures with distinguished speakers from all over the world covering topics from advanced structural engineering and dynamics, structural control and applications, smart structures technology, sensing and materials, structural health monitoring and assessments. The activities program can be found here.

Attending lectures
Group photo after one of the lectures
Furthermore, we were able to participate in compelling technical visits. One of these visits was to the Shinjuku Mitsui Building in the heart of Tokyo, where we attended a presentation on the seismic upgrading project of this building and were able to then visit the TMD's (Tuned Mass Dumpers) allocated on the top of building as a result of this project! You can see some pictures bellow.

Another visit was to the Kajima Technical Research Institute. Kajima Corporation is one of the four biggest construction companies in Japan, and its technical research institute department was established as the construction industry's first research institute in Japan in 1949.
In this visit, we attended a presentation where the main goals and line of work of this company were demonstrated followed by a visit to its laboratories and research facilities which included a wind tunnel and a large scale shaking table. Unfortunately, there are no photos of this visit.

Furthermore, during the time of this summer school, we attended the ANCRiSST 2017 - 13th International Workshop on Advanced Smart Materials and Smart Structural Technologies - at the University of Tokyo, where many lecturers of our summer school were also presenting. Here you can see some photos of this event as well.

Group photo of ANCRiSST 2017 attendees

Attending one of the presentations

In addition, for this conference dinner, we were treated to a cruise on the Tokyo Bay with incredible views of the city and some cool structures such as the Rainbow Bridge that you can see in the following picture.

Moreover, during this summer school, we attended a demonstration on trials of method and practice of bridge inspection area. Here three different methods of damage identification were demonstrated: two based on camera images and one based on visual inspection. This was a highly interactive and enticing way to see in first hand the used practices in bridge inspection from the more traditional to the more recently developed techniques. You can see some images of this visit below.

Finally, as one of the main tasks of this summer school, we were sorted into different groups where we were to apply some of the knowledge we took during the lectures and technical visits into two laboratory projects. The first laboratory experiment consisted on the operational model analysis of a bridge located in the Yokohama National University campus. 

Instrumented YNU bridge

My group for the laboratory experiments

The second experiment consisted on the load estimation of an aluminium beam structure using static strain data acquired by Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors. 
Dimension of the beam structure and FBG sensor location 
Photo of the instrumented beam

Afterwards, on the final day of the summer school, each group made a presentation on its results.

Presenting the group project
Overall this was an incredible experience, where a great deal was learned and witnessed firsthand on the topic of structural health monitoring. Furthermore, we got to know and befriend young researchers from all over the world with different backgrounds and cultures and also get to know some of the biggest established researchers on the topic of civil engineering SHM.

Receiving the certificate of participation on APESS' 17 from Prof. Yozo Fujino
So, this is all from me now and I hope to have the time to write here again in a near future to tell you more about the latest activities regarding my project so please stay tuned.


Friday, 28 July 2017

UPC's Doctoral School open day

Hey guys!

How's everything going? Hope everything is going great and you guys are ready to read some of the latest developments regarding my life as an ESR.
So today, I will talk with you about the UPC's Doctoral school open day that occurred some weeks ago and where I and JJ Moughty (ESR 10) were able to participate.

This was an event held at the main auditorium of the Vertex building in UPC north campus on the 8th of June and was mainly attended by master students. The layout of the program for this event is visible in the next picture.

Program of UPC's doctoral school open day

The main goal was to present to these students the advantages of obtaining a doctoral degree while displaying the needed requirements and the different ways that are possible to undertake in order to obtain such degree. Furthermore and as part of this initiative, the testimony of two PhD students was presented in order to give a more personal and real view of taking this choice. It was in this part where I participated by doing a small presentation about my own personal experience while conducting my PhD studies in UPC.

Talking about my personal PhD experience to prospective students

In this presentation, I talked a little bit about my arrival to UPC from Portugal, introduced the topic of my project while also explaining how Marie-Curie ITNs (more specifically the TRUSS ITN) work and finally described how this experience is being on a more personal level. Bellow, you can see some photos of this presentation.

In the second part of this event, both I and JJ answered to questions and doubts presented by some students regarding our experience while doing the PhD and more directly related to the civil engineering field. Unfortunately, there are no photos of this part of the open day.

All in all, it was a delightful and engaging experience where hopefully a large number of students got inspired and encouraged to pursue a doctoral degree, and in this way, help us in continuing to advance the knowledge of science.

So this is all from me now. Next month I will get back to you with some more stories and developments of my project so please stay tuned!


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Last TRUSS meeting and ESREL conference

Hey guys!

How's everything? I know I haven't written anything here in a while but time has been quite short on the past months. However, I will try to write again more often and keep you updated on the latest developments and events happening in my project.

So to start, today I'm going to talk with you about a TRUSS meeting that we had some weeks ago in London and my attendance with the rest of my ESR's colleagues in the ESREL 2017 conference just last week.

The TRUSS meeting corresponded to the planned annual plenary meeting which also included a Workshop on the topic of Structural Safety & Infrastructure Management. This event took place at the beautiful headquarters of Lloyd's Register in Fenchurch Street in London, UK on the 24th and 25th of May.

The workshop took place on the first day with the following keynote speakers:

  • Robert Dean, Principal Engineer (Structures) at Network Rail, UK, “Bridge Asset Management at Network Rail”
  • John Doran, Chair of the Infrastructure Operators Adaptation Forum and Infrastructure Expert at John Dora Consulting Limited, UK, “Thoughts about the Risks in Adopting Risk-Based Strategies”
  • Mark Girolami, Professor at Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, UK, “Data Centric Engineering”
  • James Brownjohn, Director at Full Scale Dynamics Limited and Professor at University of Exeter, UK, “Resilient Infrastructure: the Role of Structural Health Monitoring”
  • Michael Habvro Faber, Professor at Department of Civil Engineering, Aalborg University, Denmark, “Decision Theoretical Framework to Offshore Structural Integrity Management”
  • Alan O’Connor, Director at Roughan & O’Donovan Innovative Solutions and Associate Professor at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, “Probabilistic Assessment of Bridges – Case Study Presentation –”
  • Thierry Yalamas, Director at Phimeca Engineering, France,“Methods and Tools for Reliability Assessment”
Furthermore, a poster exhibition by all the ESR's on their respective topics was also present at this event. 
The next day was followed by short presentations by all the ESR's on their research progress and the usual doctoral study panels meetings.

Below you can see some photos of this.

Workshop on Structural Safety & Infrastructure Management

ESR's posters exhibition

Presenting research progress

Group photo

More recently, i.e., last week all of the ESR's participated in the annual European Safety and Reliability Conference ESREL 2017. Here, as planned in the beginning of this project, a mini-symposia of TRUSS was organized within the topic of this conference. This event took place between the 18 and 22 of June in the city of Portoroz in Slovenia. 

Here are some pictures of the conference.

ESREL 2017 conference

Some of the members of the TRUSS ITN

Attending other ESR's presentation 
Presenting at ESREL 2017

This, as always, was a great opportunity to network and observe and get to know some interesting and innovative research that is beeing conducted throughout the world on the topic of safety and reliability.

So this is all from me right now. Time to get bet to work and I promise I will take less time to write another blog post with the latest developments of my project.


Sunday, 29 January 2017

TRUSS 2nd Training Week at UPC-BarcelonaTech

Hey everyone!

How is everything going? Handling this cold weather alright? Well, here in Barcelona it has been quite different from the sunny and warm days that you would associate with this city.
That was what my fellow ESR colleagues and rest of the TRUSS members discovered last week when they were here for the 2nd training week of our project. That's right, last week we had almost every member of our research group attending this event and that's what I'm going to describe you on this month's post.

Firstly, since I didn't write about the 1st conducted training week (it preceded the first post on this blog, you can read all about it here), I probably should explain to you what are these training weeks and their role within our research project. As I've mentioned in previous posts, TRUSS, as it stands for Training in Reducing Uncertainty in Structural Safety, is an innovative training network that brings together an intersectoral and multidisciplinary collaboration between academia and industry in order to conduct innovative research on the topic of structural safety. Part of this is achieved by providing to the 14 fellows local and network-wide training activities. It's in this last one, that these training weeks have a role. It basically consists of core (research methods and business skills), specialist and communicational skills modules given to the early stage researchers enabling us to improve the quality of our research and receive important and valuable training that will better prepare us towards our future career paths, either in academia or industry. You can learn more about the structure and objectives of this type of activities in this link.

In this training week, at Barcelona, it was no different. This training week was held at the north campus of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya from the 16 to the 20 of January. We ESR's had a full and productive week, where we received training in technical areas such as "Multi-Level Monte Carlo Methods for stochastic analysis and robust optimum design", "Vulnerability and Risk Assessment",  "Reducing Uncertainty in Structural Safety through Static Non Destructive Tests", "Observability Techniques for Uncertainty Reduction", "Survival Analysis and Discrete Event Simulation applied to Structural Reliability", "Reducing uncertainty through the Structured Expert Elicitation", "Uncertainty Quantification and propagation for sensitivity or reliability purpose", "Practical Reliability Engineering - Case Studies" and "Advanced Finite Element Modelling".

ESRs attending training on technical modules

We also received training on Research Methods such as "Knowledge management: The path to innovation" and "Responsible conduct in research and innovation".

Moreover, each ESR made a presentation on the progress of their research and respective project as it happens in all of these meetings. This was followed by the usual Doctoral Studies Panels where feedback is given to each ESR by external advisors in form of advice and comments regarding the project evolution and its next actions. This is an excellent opportunity for the evaluation of the situation point of each project and to assess if different paths should or not be taken.

Presenting my Research Progress in this 2nd Training Week
But don't worry, not everything was work. We also had time for leisure moments. We had the opportunity to take a cultural and technical visit to one of the most important (if not the most) landmarks in Barcelona: Sagrada Familia! Here we received a presentation of the history and situational point of this incredible structure by project architect Jaime Serrallonga. Afterward, we had a guided visit where we were able to contemplate and admire this sublime monument.

TRUSS members in guided visit to Sagrada Familia
So, as you can imagine this was an incredibly fun and enjoyable week where it was possible to continue to develop important technical and communicational skills and also appreciate the company of all my fellow ESR colleagues in the marvelous city of Barcelona.

Now it's time to get back to work since a lot of tasks are due in these next few months. In the next post I will get back to you with more information regarding my project, so please stay tuned.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

Mid-Term Review Meeting in Dublin, Ireland

Hi guys!!

How have you been during this month? Hopefully, all of you had a wonderful Christmas and spent some quality time with your family and friends.

As we get closer to the end of 2016, I take advantage to write here about an important meeting that our TRUSS research group had at the beginning of this month, on the 1st and 2nd of December in Dublin, Ireland.

I'm talking about the Mid-Term Review (MTR) meeting that had the goal of bringing together all the ESR's, supervisors, representatives of partner organizations and project coordinator with a project officer from the Research Executive Agency (REA) and a scientific external expert. This MTR had the goal of assessing the fulfillment of the scientific, training, management and networking aspects that are part of the grant agreement that serves as the basis of this current European research project. Hence, not only the scientific progress was to be evaluated but also particular attention was to be given to the training activities and networking aspects including the topic of each ESR's secondment.


This meeting was held in the offices of Ove Arup and Partners, one of the global leading firms of structural design engineering.

Ove Arup & Partners offices in Dublin, Ireland (credits)

After an initial introduction of all the attendees,  the Project Coordinator, Prof. Arturo Gonzalez made an interesting presentation about the TRUSS project and its current situation. From this, I want to point out the information provided regarding the local training on complimentary skills received by the ESRs: "314 hours in 8 language courses, more than 110 hours in teaching activities -supervising, demonstrating or providing tutorials- and more than 150 hours in other taught courses on soft skills -bibliographical management, how to write an academic paper, communication skills, etc-." Furthermore, regarding more technical skills, the ESR's received "more than 500 hours in 19 laboratory/field tests and almost 1000 hours in 71 courses directly related to their research while also attending 37 conferences"

Moreover, details with reference to the already carried out dissemination of the overall project were shared with all the attendees of this meeting: "TRUSS has published 24 technical papers (3 in peer-reviewed journals and 21 in conferences), and 3 press releases in mainstream magazines or newspapers prior to November 2016".

Finally, each ESR made a very brief and small presentation regarding their scientific progress, local and network-wide received training in these past 14 months.

Presenting at Mid-Term Review Meeting in Dublin, Ireland (credits)
In conclusion, this was an incredibly enjoyable meeting where it was possible to observe the general good situation of the project and the great work being carried out not only by each of the ESRs but also by every person involved in this research program.

In addition and on a great final note, I conclude this post by informing you that in little less than 3 weeks our group is going to get together again, this time in Barcelona, for the second network-wide training week. Therefore, in the next post, surely I will write here plenty of enjoyable stories about this meeting, so please stay tuned!

I wish you all a wonderful year of 2017!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Attendance and presentation at IALCCE' 16 in Delft, Netherlands

Hello everyone!

How is everything going with you guys? This month went flying but, at the same time, it was greatly productive. However, in this post, I will talk with you about my experience last month at IALCCE 2016.

The Fifth International Symposium on Life-Cycle Civil Engineering, IALCCE2016, was a conference held in the city of Delft, South Holland in Netherlands from the 16th to the 19th of October 2016.

IALCCE'16 logo (credits)
This was a conference organized by Infra Quest, a collaboration between the Delft University of Technology, TNO (the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) and Rijkswaterstaat (government agency within the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. Furthermore, this event was mainly held at TU Delft Aula Congress Centre, that can be seen here.

Venue of IALCCE'16 (credits)
The International Association for Life-Cycle Civil Engineering, or IALCCE, is an organization  that focus on the advocacy of the life-cycle assessment and study in the field of civil engineering through international cooperation for the society benefit. They sponsor this conference that is held every two years, being that the first was held in Varenna, Italy back in 2008.

In this conference, the theme of this year event was: Civil Engineering from a life-cycle perspective. In this way, and taking into account the topic of the project that we have been discussing in this blog, our research group at Barcelona, submitted a document with the title "Health Monitoring of real structures by distributed optical fiber"

Article (left) and Presentation (right) submitted to IALCCE'16
Here, as the title suggests, it was showcased the opportunities and enhancements that distributed optical fiber sensing can provide for Structural Health Monitoring of real world structures, with important saving costs for the structure's owner authorities (including, naturally, the tax payers) and the further assurance that can be granted to their everyday users.

Waiting to present at IALCCE'16 on the 19th of October 2016
As always, this was also an excellent opportunity to continuously get to know excellent work that is being conducted in areas similar and relevant to the one that I'm dealing with in my project, and also, to get to know the people behind those same studies.

As I'm writing this, the date of TRUSS's Mid-term Review Meeting at Dublin is approaching on the first two days of December. In this way, hopefully, I will be able to give you some information of what went on on this meeting on my next post.

I also, take this opportunity, to wish you all a happy and delightful Christmas. 

See you soon!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Beginning of secondment at COTCA

Hi guys, how's everything?

I hope your work is going well. As for me, a lot of work is being conducted with its inherent challenges but in the end I think everything will come out just fine.

As planned in the beginning of my project, the time to start my secondment at COTCA S.A. has arrived, so basically in this post I will talk with you about this important stage of my project within TRUSS.

This secondment is part of the training that, as an ESR in TRUSS project, we receive during our research that is a period between 3 and 6 months. ESR's that are hosted at universities are seconded to industry and vice versa. There's several benefits that we receive from this experience, such as a better perspective from industry of the topics of our researches and in this way provide us with knowledge that will aid us in our researches in order to provide work and information that will better tackle the real necessities of our current society. Moreover, it's a great way to provide personal experience in an industry wise environment, that for instance, in my personal case, I've never had experienced before, improving our curriculum and widening our future professional opportunities after the conclusion of our work within this ITN.

So, in this way, last September 12th I officially initiated my secondment at the company COTCA S.A. that is also located in the city of Barcelona, Spain. This secondment is done under the supervision of Dr. Sergi Villalba that is an employee of this company and is the overall co-supervisor of my project. 

COTCA S.A. logo
This is a company that was founded in 1979 and that is dedicated to the quality control of construction in civil and building structures. In this way, they have a large expertise in the instrumentation of structures for monitoring purposes with different types of sensors including, and this is very important, the use of distributed optical fiber sensors, more specifically the OBR based sensor that I've mentioned in previous posts. It's a relatively small company, with only 16 staff members but that has significant practical experience on structural monitoring, instrumentation, control and maintenance of structures.

Actually, I had the opportunity of working with Sergi before, as part of some short stays of my secondment back in January and February, when a two-span bridge was being monitored with OBR sensors and where I was able to acquire a lot of practical experience by witnessing in first hand the main adversities and difficulties that arise from the real world application of this technology.

In opposition to what happened with a lot of my fellow ESR's, the location of my secondment is not far away from where I am currently living. Actually it's closer to my home than the university, so in this way, my normal daily routine was not at all affected by this. This also allows me to easily and often visit UPC either to have a meeting with my supervisor, Prof. Joan Ramon Casas, or the laboratories of the Structures' department.

Now, as part of my long stay secondment, among several tasks, I'm analyzing the data collected in the aforementioned real world application as well as other experiments already conducted by me in the UPC laboratory. I'm also trying to thoroughly prepare further laboratory experiments which always provides different challenges such as the coordination with laboratory technicians and availability of loading test machines. Furthermore, it's required to buy and assemble several components in order to successfully prepare these experiments, such as new and different adhesives, concrete ingredients and last but not least, more optical fiber! For this I have to personally contact different commercial entities and carefully evaluate each option. Naturally, this process demands a considerable effort in order to overcome the usual inertia associated with these actions, but in the end, I think it provides me a valuable and unique kind of experience that otherwise I wouldn't be able to acquire.

So, this is basically it for now. Hopefully, next month I will be able to get back to you guys with more and exciting news.

Stay tuned and see you soon!